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Cereb Cortex. 2007 Oct;17(10):2258-67. Epub 2006 Nov 30.

Dynamics of oscillatory activity during auditory decision making.

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Institute of Medical Psychology, J. W. Goethe-University, Heinrich-Hoffmann-Strasse 10, 60528 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Perceptual decision making requires the comparison and integration of sensory evidence to generate a behavioral response. We used magnetoencephalography to investigate the temporal dynamics of decision making during an auditory task that required forced-choice decisions about whether a pair of syllables S1 and S2 differed either in their acoustic patterns or in the perceived position of their sound sources. Conditions with easy and difficult decisions were created by varying the similarity of S1 and S2. Statistical probability mapping showed enhanced gamma-band activity (GBA) over posterior parietal cortex for spatial and over left inferior frontal cortex for pattern changes (at approximately 120 to 220 ms after S2 onset). Activations were stronger for easy than difficult decisions. GBA over dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was more pronounced at approximately 280 to 430 ms for easy than difficult decisions regardless of type of change, possibly reflecting decision-relevant networks that integrate information from higher sensory areas representing the perceptual alternatives. Sensorimotor beta desynchronization as a measure of motor preparation peaked at approximately 460 ms for easy and at approximately 520 ms for difficult decisions, thus reflecting the reaction time difference between both conditions. In summary, the analysis of oscillatory activity in magnetoencephalogram served to elucidate the temporal dynamics of perceptual decision making in humans.

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